Court of Appeals agrees with lower court's management of sidewalk injury claim
Percy Lewis suffered a fractured wrist when he fell after encountering a missing concrete section in the sidewalk ramp contiguous to a pedestrian crossing of Woodward Avenue in Ferndale. He sent a notice of injury to the City and to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), as his attorneys recognized that each defendant would claim that the other was responsible for the defect. The claim was not settled, so Lewis filed suit.
The judge held that the area of the defect was not part of the "traveled portion of the highway designed for vehicular travel" and thus MDOT was not responsible for it. The judge held that the City was responsible, despite arguments that Lewis' notice was inadequate, that a subsequent change in law should apply to his injury and that the ramp was not part of the "sidewalk."On appeal, the lower court's rulings were upheld. The Court noted that the notice provided to the City identified the proper crosswalk and included photographs that enabled the City to identify the exact location of the defect. It also noted that statutory amendments limiting a city's liability to "sidewalks" adjacent to a highway were not applicable to this injury which occurred prior to the amendment in question.
Lastly, the Court held that when properly "taking into account the character of the paved way and its intended use," the City could be held accountable for the defect that was within its jurisdiction.